Every year, there is a club vs club competition called the iRacing World Cup. This event is not about crowning the fastest driver, it is about beating our rival clubs. iRacing divides the member base into 35 clubs – these are either individual countries, groups of neighbouring countries, or in the case of USA, states or groups of states. Our club is called Scandinavia, and consists of four countries: Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. In October and November we gathered a total of 35 drivers to fight for our honour in the World Cup! This is how we fared:
The Main Event, the Classic ‘World Cup’
This is the event that has existed every year. First a qualifying round to pick up the serious clubs, then the ‘main tournament’ where a small selection advances to the final. As has been the case lately, the main tournament was a group stage, where the winner is the one advancing.
For each round, there is one oval race and one road race – we need to show our skill in both types of racing. Naturally, for Scandinavia road races are what we know best, but we take pride in our achievements on the ovals as well! The oval car for all rounds was NASCAR Gen6, the current top level car in the NASCAR ranks. For road, the car was Corvette C6.R, a quite powerful GT1.
The qualifying round this time was to be with fixed setups, an advantage for us since we usually cannot compete with the others on setup. As it were, we had a pole position in a race (Watkins Glen), were fighting for the lead in another (Charlotte), but ended up with more traditional “good enough” positions. This gave us 8th overall, which is respectable, but not quite where we had hoped to be. A 5th place would have given a much better group in the group stage. As it were, we were placed in group A with defending champions (and eventually repeat champions) Finland, Australia/New Zealand and Asia.
Knowing we couldn’t beat Finland without something extraordinary happening, we set our goal to beat Aus/NZ and Asia. In the oval race (Atlanta), we quickly discovered that Finland were in a league of their own. However, with our setup kindly donated to us by an American club, we did have the upper hand on Aus/NZ. Even with a few of our drivers running into problems (accidents, failed tire strategy gamble, wrong tape configuration), we held on to beat Aus/NZ by almost 100 points. We were then cautiously optimistic before the road race, but kept in mind that C6.R is a difficult car, and Imola a very tricky track where an accident can happen at any moment. During qualification we also noticed that Aus/NZ had brought a few mediocre drivers, but also a group of extremely fast road racers – several of which could even bring the challenge to Finland! We could only do our best, though, and that we did. While several others were crashed out of the race, Scandinavia genereally kept going strong and improved slightly from our starting positions. In the end, Aus/NZ actually took the race win through a clever and decisive dive on the last lap, and beat us by a solid margin in the road race. Some frenetic calculations later, we could relax and conclude that we had beaten them overall, though!
So, we didn’t reach the final, but have reason to be happy with our performance.
Technically, we were defending champions in this event. It was held for the first time in 2015, in a different format. This time the race was going to be a full 24 hours around Le Mans in the GT1 class. Scandinavia, helped greatly by the experienced endurance team Simgang. For the race, we had chosen the Aston Martin.
Our lineup was a good mix of experienced endurance racers and optimistic newcomers, and we were actually fighting within top 5 for many hours. Including short stints in the lead, and an actual shot at winning. Trouble did hit us, though, but we could fight through the 24 hours and finally finish 9th. If we remove secondary cars from clubs entering (and beating us) with more than one car, we were the 6th best club!
Yet another event that was run for the second time. This event is the superspeedway draft fest, where cocky Americans believe they can easily beat the rest of the world. As it were, though, the car of choice was so fast the drivers had to lift in the turns at Talladega, and skill came into play. Which is of course good for us. The car was the previous top level car of NASCAR, Car of Tomorrow.
The event had one qualifying round, with the world divided into two “hemispheres”. Top two from both advanced to the final. In our western hemisphere, race start was rather late (after midnight), giving us a bit trouble filling our score card. Still, we did well, and finished 3rd. UK&I were the top dogs, but DE-AT-CH in 2nd beat us only due to more drivers. We had better average score than them, and with only 2 more drivers we probably would have reached the final! Good job by our guys.
Ring of Fire
A new creation for this year’s World Cup: A hotlap competition around the green hell, Nürburgring Nordschleife! The twist was that the clubs had to get a total of 20 drivers to set a valid lap time before they could get classified – and then the score would be the average lap time of the club’s fastest 20 drivers. Car of choice was the Mazda MX5, which was the subject of many jokes. “Try not to fall asleep on the straights”, etc.
As it were, though, lapping the MX5 around the ‘schleife was anything but boring! When pushing our limits, the car was truly a handful, both on entry and exit, and even scary in the middle of fast corners due to a bit of instability. There really were no room for breathing and relaxing, and lots of challenging corners and combinations to figure out!
The event ran with sessions around the clock Saturdays and Sundays the first two weekends, and then the final Saturday until the final of the main event started in the evening. We had a handful+ drivers showing up both the first weekends, but were still lacking 5 new drivers as the last day of competition arrived. At this time our average lap time was 8:09, quite far behind the best clubs. However, we had made great setup improvements, and made a final desperate push to get as many drivers in as possible. A few hours before deadline we had reached 20, and before the end we were up to 25! In addition, many set good lap times, and others that already had registered lap times gave it another go to improve their times. This eventually improved our average lap time to a respectable 7:57 and a strong 5th place overall! The club ahead could have been within reach, but the podium was always going to be too strong anyhow. On a sidenote, winners DE-AT-CH had an average lap time faster than our fastest one…
This year, the world cup even had room for a “fun event” – an oval demolition derby! Set on a short track, Lanier, the challenge was to get our team of drivers around 100 laps before the other teams of our group. As you may have guessed, the sporting code was not valid for this event. In fact, crashing and tactical wrecking was encouraged! Street Stock was the chosen weapon for this event.
Our team had had a practice session, looking for ways to ruin each others’ races, but we really have no experience with this type of event. So, without knowing what to expect, or what strategy to follow, we entered with an open mind. Through almost random luck, we had been placed again with Finland, Aus/NZ and Asia in our group, with also two more clubs: Central Eastern Europe and club International. Finland qualified up ahead as expected, with some Aussies in the mix, but interestingly we found our drivers making progress through the field and even taking a commanding lead as the others were crashed out. At several points during the competition we were in the points lead, but eventually Finland manage to fight back and beat us by almost the narrowest margin possible, 3 points…
So close to the final, with this inexperienced team, was an impressive effort!
All car paints were designed by Team Vikings, an endurance team for drivers from the Nordic countries. We thank you for your effort! We also thank the team for providing many of the participating drivers!
Again, also thank you to Simgang for great help with the World Enduro! In fact also with the Nordschleife setup.
Last, but not least, thank you to all drivers that participated and helped our club!!!! Your effort was greatly appreciated!